Sunday, April 23, 2017

2017 World Team Trophy: Review

I always love this competition.  It's more of a fluff competition in terms of it not really counting for anything important other than bragging rights, but it's still an opportunity for skaters to make one final statement before we head into the off season.

Japan reclaims the title!

Final team results:

The World Team Trophy doesn't go by combined score; the placement in each segment counts for a certain number of points.  However, for overall placement purposes I've combined the scores.

Women's results:

Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS):  80.85 (SP) + 160.46 (FS) = 241.31 - 1st
No surprise whatsoever here, and that includes her breaking all three world records for SP score, FS score and total score.  Despite a wobbly landing on her 2A in the SP Evgenia hit the 80 point mark.  I've seen her skate that program better...and by her reaction at the end she didn't think it was that great either.  But the judges thought otherwise so 80+ was the score.  She was clean in the FS as well and the judges went gaga to the max with her scores.  Evgenia received over 20 points in +GOE which drove her base value of 62.33 (which was only 3rd highest of the competition) to over 82 points in TES.  The judges gave her a combined 17 perfect 10.00s in component scores, including straight 10.00s for Performance which contributed to her monstrous 78+ in PCS.  Evgenia earned a record 160.46 in the FS and definitively obliterated anyone's hope of winning the Olympics next year.

Mai Mihara (JPN): 72.10 (SP) + 146.17 (FS) = 218.27 - 2nd
Mai made the home crowd happy with her performances.  Her SP was nice and easy, including that final 3F that she missed at Worlds.  The clean skate earned her a personal best and placed her 3rd in the segment.  The FS was great, though a few of her jumps were a little scratchy which cost her in terms of not receiving as much +GOE as she could have; however, she still earned +GOE on every element.  The performance was strong and both the crowd and judges loved it.  Mai blew past her previous personal best FS score (138.29 at Worlds last month) thanks in large part to a big PCS hike (70.10 here, versus 63.89 at Worlds).  I can't say I agree with that; then again if Evgenia is getting 78+ I don't think there's room to complain about inflation for any other skater.  Mai secured a 2nd place finish in the FS which helped Japan to edge out Russia for the win.

Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) = 71.41 (SP) + 145.30 (FS) = 216.71 - 3rd
The Wakaba who showed up at this event is the Wakaba I've been waiting to see all season long.  She had a great SP, hitting all of her jumps and performing beautifully.  She set a personal best score and placed a close 5th in the segment.  Aside from a ding (!) on her 3F, she was perfect in the FS.  Wakaba hit both 3Lz-3T combinations beautifully as well as all of her other jumps.  It was great to see her finally have that kind of breakthrough performance.  Like Mai, Wakaba's PCS got a major boost here (63.71 at Worlds, 69.65 here).  I agree with Wakaba having higher PCS as she really does perform her program (much more than Mai in my opinion) but I do think 69+ is too much...but again, whatever.  It's the end of the season and she skated well at home so why not go nuts?  Wakaba scored another personal best with a huge 145+ score and finished 3rd in the segment.  She and Mai going 2-3 in the FS helped secure the win for Japan.

As for the rest...

Back-to-back clean competitions!

Gabrielle Daleman (CAN; 214.15, 4th):  Gabrielle represented very well for Canada.  She had a good SP though she had scratchy landings on both her lutz and axel.  Gabby can get a little tight when she's nervous and it affects her landings which hurts her in the GOE department.  However, the mistakes were minor and she still scored 71+ and placed a close 4th.  Her FS was even stronger than it was at Worlds.  After struggling for so long to put out clean performances it seems as though she's finally got the hang of it.  A few of her landings were a bit lazy (she wasn't checking her free leg completely) and she got dinged (!) on her 3F, but overall she was clean again.  It was a very strong performance that earned her a personal best for the season and placed her a strong 4th in the segment.

Nice way to end the season

Elena Radionova (RUS; 209.29, 5th):  After missing Europeans and Worlds this year, it was pretty crucial that Elena skate well to set herself up for next season and prove to the Russian federation that she's still competitive.  The SP wasn't exactly perfect but it was still very strong.  She had a typical wonky landing on her 3Lz and wasn't able to complete the combo.  However she tacked a 3T to her solo 3L, completed the combo and got bonus points to boot.  Elena finished the SP in 2nd place.  Her FS was the strongest one she's had all season.  It wasn't 100% clean though.  An under-rotation on her second lutz cost her as well as an under-rotation/step out on her 2A.  Still, even with the errors it was a strong skate and a good way to end her season.

I'd say she's back at #1

Ashley Wagner (USA; 204.01, 6th):  I get the feeling Ashley was searching for a bit of redemption here and I think she found it.  Both programs were solid albeit not completely clean.  She got hit with an under-rotation on her 3F-3T combo in the SP but the rest of her jumps and elements were nicely done.  She scored a season's best and finished the segment in 6th place.  Ashley got credit for the rotation on the 3F-3T in the FS but got hit with under-rotation calls on both triples in her 3L-1L-3S combo as well as an edge call on her lutz.  Even with the loss of points Ashley's performance was lovely and it was the strongest FS she's put out all season long.  She earned another personal best and finished 6th in the FS segment as well.  To put out her best at the last event of the season and be the top American finisher has to feel pretty good for her.

Other Competition Notes:  Zijun Li (CHN; 188.06, 7th) had a very strong performance of her FS which scored her a personal best 128.30.  I really love that FS (the music is gorgeous!) and aside from an under-rotation on her opening combo, Zijun was clean.  Great to see her end the season on a high note...Karen Chen (USA; 168.95, 9th) is back to her old self again.  She had a rough SP, doubling the 3T in her combo and popping open her solo jump.  The FS wasn't any better: she popped her opening lutz, received an under-rotation and edge call on her 3F, had a downgrade and fall on the second lutz and fell on her final 2A.  The upside?  At least she didn't do this at Worlds.

And that's that.  The 2016-2017 figure skating season has officially ended.  It's been quite an interesting one, that's for sure.  Next season is going to be exciting, tense and heartbreaking.  There's nothing like a looming Olympics to amp up the drama in this sport.  There are so many story lines to follow, all culminating in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.  I can't wait!

I've got one post left for this season: the End of the Season Power Rankings. Check back soon!

1 comment:

  1. Ridiculous scoring I'm afraid. Only 3 women, Evgenia, Yuna Kim and Adelina Sotnikova at Sochi have ever scored higher than Mai and Wakaba in the free skate, plus the scores count for Personal Best and record purposes. How long before Evgenia's score is beaten?